Dinner with the Marfleets almost always starts three hours after the invitation time.
I walk over and the chaos is just starting. Peter usually greets with his hearty British hello and then offers me a Coke or glass of red wine made from grapes he grew himself. Beatrice usually has a few pots on the stove and several items waiting to be chopped. The kitchen table is covered in food from the last meal and the next one along with a few other random things. Kiera will take me outside to show me the puppies or her new bike. Then I am led off to see the latest remodeling project or what is currently growing in the garden.
Eventually, I return to the kitchen to catch up with the chef. So much time pasts between these visits there is always lots of new. I offer to help with something, perhaps slice the aberjeans or cut bacon for the salad. I watch Beatrice masterfully throw spices and sauces together, although she claims to have little expertise. My taste buds disagree. Peter shares a story from the trenches of his moonlighting insurance adjusting gig. I ask questions to all, sip my wine, formulate daydreams from the smells escaping the oven and listen tentatively.
When it is time to eat, we all find places around the small table. I’ve brought several guests to the Marfleet home and they are equally welcomed, despite being from America, as Peter would say. We eagerly dip forks into the food that is always worth the wait. We continue our shared conversation, agreeing, each time, this may be one of the best meals we’ve had.
Full and sleepy, I walk the short distance back to my house. My guests often graciously remind me how lucky I am to have such a family in my village and I never disagree. Weekend afternoons at the Marfleet will be one of my fondest, and longed for, memories of these two years. When I am in there home, I am not a guest. I am a member of the family.